Saturday, January 16, 2010

Massachusetts Miracle?

A voter revolt over ObamaCare is brewing.

Barely a year after the inauguration of Barrack Obama as president and his Party’s huge congressional majorities, the Democrats’ window of opportunity for enactment of their radical statist agenda is rapidly closing.

Following on the heals of the emergence of the Tea Party Movement and the November Republican gubernatorial victories comes an increasing likelihood that Republican Scott Brown will shock the political world by defeating Democrat Martha Coakley in the special Massachusetts Senatorial election coming up on 1/19/10. Writing in the New York Post, Charles Hurt reports:

Riding a wave of opposition to President Obama's push for health-care reform, the Republican candidate seeking to fill Ted Kennedy's old Massachusetts Senate seat has surged into the lead, a surprising new poll showed late yesterday.

"It's a Brown-out," David Paleologos, director of Suffolk's Political Research Center, told the Boston Herald. "It's a massive change in the political landscape."

While the difference falls within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 4 points, if it holds it would be a stunning upset in a Democratic stronghold, and would likely scuttle Obama's efforts to overhaul the nation's health-care system.

A Brown win would break the Democrats’ filibuster-proof 60-vote majority. Significantly, Brown has made ObamaCare the centerpiece of his campaign. Considering the fact that ObamaCare is modeled after RomneyCare, the Massachusetts universal health plan named for its former Republican governor, this is astounding. In early January, as Brown began his surge, Rand Simberg noted over at Pajamas Media:

"If a Republican running against ObamaCare managed to pick up the seat of Ted Kennedy, or even come close to doing so, it would be a political earthquake of Richter 8+. What would that say about the popularity of the bill if it wasn’t even a winning issue in the state that had the most first-hand experience with it, not to mention in the election to replace the senator who had been a leading proponent of it? It would make it very difficult for the Democrats to continue to delude themselves that this legislation is a winning issue in the country at large, if it clearly wasn’t in one of the bluest of the blue states."

David Gratzer writes:

[A Coakley win] should be a forgone conclusion in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 3-to-1…

Yet, in recent polling, there's been a major shift. In an early January poll, Rasmussen Reports found Brown narrowing a 31-point gap to a single digit…

[The election is] turning into a referendum … on approval of the White House's health care management.”

Why the shift? Bay State voters may be decidedly liberal, but they understand a thing or two about sweeping health reforms, having passed their own legislation back in 2006. An expansion of Medicaid, subsidies for those with low income, an insurance exchange, a mandate for individuals to buy insurance -- all of these ideas that are core to Obamacare already passed in the Bay State a few years ago.

And, by all accounts, the experiment has been problematic. Yes, the total number of uninsured has dropped. But insurance premiums soared, boasting double-digit annual increases. The Boston Globe recently proclaimed that Massachusetts now has the highest insurance costs in the country.

Needless to say, state officials are at a loss -- and on the hook. Program spending is about 85 percent higher than originally projected. Recently discussed proposals include a return to managed care-like capitation and even price controls.

Next week, Massachusetts voters go to the ballot box in a close election. The Democrat will probably win, but if a state that voted for Obama over McCain by 26 percentage points has hesitation on government-heavy health reforms, Democrats are in for an unpleasant election year.

That was written on 1/13/10. Since then, the polls have continued to show Brown momentum. And what will be the polling fallout from the Democrats' special interest cave-in to the unions on the taxing of "cadillac" health plans?

The Dems are in a tight spot. Desperate to hold onto the seat, President Obama has decided to take the risky step of campaigning for Coakley, a move that could backfire. This was a 180 degree switch, but apparently made necessary by Brown’s momentum which enabled him to overcome a 30 point Coakley lead in just a few weeks. On 1/12/10, Charles Hurt reported:

"Obama's decision to stay out of the contest sparked speculation that he won't campaign in the state because of fears his slipping popularity would do Coakley more harm than good…"

Brown’s lead is small. But the very fact that a Republican could be this close in such a liberal stronghold is evidence of the depth of the Democrats’ political troubles. What’s more, Brown has a huge lead among Independents… as much as 71%-23% in one poll.

I don’t know much about him yet, but from what I’ve read, Brown appears to be a very mixed bag philosophically, and is probably not the kind of Republican that can draw me back to the GOP. But at this critical time, with ObamaCare racing to squeeze through a window slamming shut, any short-term opportunity that can stall the bill will likely kill it.

From the longer-term perspective, the Tea Party Movement is emerging into the political arena and could be signaling a 2010 mid-term GOP election tsunami … or, more precisely, a monumental Democrat sinkhole. This Tuesday’s Massachusetts election should be very telling.

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